Hiring for education: Industry best practice

Hiring for education: Industry best practice

The education sector requires robust recruitment procedures to ensure the safety of students and vulnerable adults, as well as a high quality of performance. Safeguarding is at the forefront of this.

Industry best practice for recruitment in the education sector includes robust vetting checks, to ensure that dishonest candidates are deterred from applying and unable to secure employment.

The risks of failing to follow industry best practice include:

  • Risk of harm to vulnerable people
  • Criminal activity, including fraud and illegal working
  • Inadequate performance and high absence levels
  • Higher costs associated with suspension, disciplinary action, and dismissal, plus the cost of re-recruiting and training replacement staff.
  • Unfair hiring practices as excellent candidates are deterred or overlooked.

Putting safeguarding first

Included in the Better Hiring Institute’s Toolkit for the education sector is the idea of employers adopting a “safeguarding mindset”, which is defined as the difference between compliance and curiosity.

An employer who has a compliance-only approach to safeguarding is mostly concerned with meeting the minimum requirements, which can lead to red flags and warning signs being overlooked.

Conversely, an employer who adopts a curiosity-based approach to safeguarding is interested in finding out the truth, investigating anything that could point to a need for further action, and consistently monitoring employees over time to ensure that the risk of harm or criminal activity is minimised.

Industry best practice in the Education sector would include employers practising a curiosity-based safeguarding mindset.

Recruitment best practice

According to information provided by the BHI, here are the key points for industry best practice when hiring in the education sector:

Job adverts:

Set out safeguarding expectations to demonstrate your commitment to safeguarding as well as indicate to applicants the level of screening they will undergo and that related conduct issues will be identified and managed effectively.

Be transparent by using accessible, inclusive language, indicating a salary range, stating safeguarding responsibilities and reassuring that workplace adjustments can be made if necessary. Also, ensure that the job description and the required skills/qualifications are accurate and fair, to reduce the risk of unconscious bias.

Promote positive workplace culture by reporting diversity statistics within the organisation. This can help to support equality, diversion, and inclusion within classrooms. Offering reasonable adjustments and support for those who may need it such as remote interviews, flexible working, and job share options can also aid this.


Use a non-biased approach by asking standardised questions and inviting a diverse shortlist, as well as ensuring a varied interview panel. Within the organisation, the interview panel, and the interviews themselves, support conversations that highlight the value of having a neurodiverse and culturally diverse workforce to promote a recruitment journey that is supportive of diverse candidates.

Provide transparency to interviewees by outlining the structure of the interview to the interviewee so that they can know what to expect, as well as including a brief overview of the organisation, role, format of the interview, and questions and competencies being assessed. Also, ensure candidates are aware of the recruitment timeframe, and when and how they will hear back.

Be prepared for the interview by making the panel familiar with the applicants they’re seeing and asking questions specific to each candidate based on their experience. Be ready to answer any questions about the organisation and role, too.

Be thorough by keeping detailed notes of the interviews, especially around how well candidates fit the criteria and person description to facilitate candidate comparison.

Include safeguarding-related questions to assess candidates’ understanding of vulnerable learners, appropriate boundaries, and safeguarding responsibilities.

Allow opportunities for interviewees to ask any questions, as well as to clarify any discrepancies found within their application.

Pre-employment screening:

It is much more effective to be thorough with screening and gain as much insight as possible before the candidate starts work than after they’ve been onboarded. Ensure that candidates are aware of the level of screening at the start of the process.

Checks should include:

Identity and Right to Work – this is one of the most important checks, if a candidate is not who they say they are, then any other further checks are redundant. Not only this but hiring a person who does not have the legal right to work can incur severe penalties.

Criminal Record Check – particularly important in education establishments where staff will be working among children and/or vulnerable adults. While a criminal record may not mean that a person is going to cause harm or commit crimes at work, it’s always better to be aware and mitigate risk.

Qualification checks – ensuring teaching staff are competent and have been trained to the level they claim reduces the risk of low-quality performance.

Online checks – checking for adverse media against a candidate ensures you are aware of any potentially dangerous links that the candidate is known to have, including organised crime, drug trafficking, fraud, financial coercion, money laundering or terrorism. Reviewing publicly available sources such as social media profiles can also flag any instances of racism, sexism, hate speech or anything that might indicate an incompatibility with the company culture and values.

For more detailed information, check out the BHI’s Better Hiring Toolkit for Education Supply Chains.

How can Reed Screening help?

Reed Screening provides screening packages designed specifically for the needs of the education industry, with packages pre-tailored to mitigate risk when hiring for popular roles such as maintenance, hospitality and facilities staff, finance and admin staff, or teachers, lecturers and support staff. We cover everything from permanent hires and fixed-term contractors to temporary/agency supply chains.

All workers are screened to the high standard you need to ensure that your establishment is operating safely, efficiently and with appropriately qualified, responsible, and reliable staff.

Get in touch today to see how our screening experts can help you.